As we head toward the end of the second week of the 2023 Pro Day Schedule, there has been a lot of news and rumors coming out from the different events. Let’s take a look at the latest NFL draft news and rumors from the Michigan, Army, and Eastern Michigan Pro Days over the last couple of days.
Mazi Smith Draws Steelers Attention at Michigan Pro Day
There was a massive crowd of NFL coaches and decision-makers in Ann Arbor for Michigan’s Pro Day. Results have been pouring in all day. Here’s what I can tell you thus far.
As has been reported elsewhere, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and their general manager Omar Kahn were in attendance. Position coaches from the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Detroit Lions were also on hand.
Defensive tackle Mazi Smith, who led all defensive linemen at the Combine with 34 reps on the bench press, looked terrific in position drills — smooth and very fluid. Multiple people I spoke with were super impressed with Smith’s position work.
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I can confirm Smith had private meetings with the Jets, Steelers, and Jaguars. In fact, he met with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin twice this week.
The sense I’m getting is the Steelers would select Smith over Bryan Breese of Clemson if, in fact, it is a battle between the two at pick No. 17. Pittsburgh would prefer Smith’s rough-and-tumble style over the finesse Breese brings.
Ronnie Bell, Gemon Green, and DJ Turner Also Showed Out
Receiver Ronnie Bell sat on most of his numbers from the Combine but did run the short shuttle at 4.04 seconds and three-cone at 6.59 seconds. He participated in position drills and looked good running routes. Bell, projected to be selected in the fourth round, met one-on-one with the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs.
Cornerback Gemon Green, who astonishingly gets little press playing across from DJ Turner, measured 6’1″, 183 pounds, and was timed between 4.49 and 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He also touched 37.5″ in the vertical jump. He had a terrific session of position drills and met with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. I am also told the Saints have a lot of interest in the aforementioned Turner.
Tight end coaches from the Falcons, Lions, and Steelers were on hand for Luke Schoonmaker. The Shrine Bowl participant ran the three-cone, which he did not run at the Combine, and timed between 6.85 and 6.95 seconds. He caught about two dozen passes before prematurely ending the workout with inflamed scar tissue in his heel.
I’m told it’s an injury he initially suffered during the CFB semi-final playoff game against TCU. I’m also told it’s no big deal and a matter of days — not weeks — before Schoonmaker will be participating in football activities once again.
Besides meeting with the tight end coaches on hand, Schoonmaker also had meetings with the Rams and Jets.
Andre Carter II Improves Time at Army Pro Day
Army’s Pro Day took place Thursday at West Point, and teams came out to watch a pair of defenders.
Senior Bowl participant Andre Carter II measured a shade under 6’7″ and 256 pounds. His 40 time came in at 4.86 seconds, and his short shuttle at 4.33 seconds. Carter’s three-cone was a swift 6.86 seconds. Giants defensive assistant Ben Burress put Carter through position drills.
Though Carter’s testing times are nowhere near elite, scouts in the league tell me they give prospects from the three military academies a pass. While most of the players who participated in the Senior Bowl or Combine spend months at facilities across the nation specifically training for those events, prospects such as Carter don’t have that luxury and must adhere to the protocols of the academies.
Wagner linebacker Titus Leo, who took part in the Shrine Bowl, was a participant in Army’s Pro Day. Leo measured 6’3″, 245 pounds, and timed the 40 between 4.66 and 4.70 seconds. His three-cone came in at 7.19 seconds and short shuttle at 4.32 seconds.
Jose Ramirez Stars at Eastern Michigan Pro Day
After a terrific Combine performance, Jose Ramirez was the star of Eastern Michigan’s Pro Day on Thursday. He looked incredibly twitchy, quick, and athletic. Scouts had Ramirez mostly participate in linebacker drills — a bit of a surprise. In Indianapolis, Ramirez worked out with the defensive ends.
That’s understandable, as he totaled 31.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks in his last two seasons at EMU.
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It should be noted Ramirez timed 6.95 seconds in the three-cone and 4.3 seconds in the short shuttle during the Combine — both the fastest marks of any defensive linemen on hand in Indianapolis. In fact, just one linebacker, Jack Campbell of Iowa, recorded better times.
Ramirez is drawing a lot of interest from the Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, and Jets.